Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

James Turbeville


Recent studies of hoplonenemertean planuliform larvae have clarified their development and provided insight into larval evolution within the phylum. However, an assessment of viviparous development using modern techniques is lacking. To help facilitate a comprehensive comparative evaluation of developmental diversity within hoplonemerteans, we have conducted a confocal laser scanning microscopy investigation of the development in Prosorhochmus americanus, one of the few viviparous hoplonemertean species. Phalloidin staining provides evidence of a modified transitory larval epidermis, and reveals that the foregut, midgut, proboscis, central nervous system, and body wall musculature form early in development, consistent with observations for planktonic and encapsulated hoplonemertean larvae. However, invaginations characteristic of these larvae were not observed. Acetylated tubulin labeling and light microscopy shows that embryos are uniformly ciliated, and some specimens possess a caudal ciliary cirrus and/or apical tuft which are characteristic of planktonic larvae. These are interpreted as vestigial structures in the non-swimming P. americanus embryos. The findings provide additional evidence that hoplonemerteans exhibit a form of metamorphosis in their life history and thus exhibit indirect development. However, a comparative assessment of larval features in P. americanus suggests an evolutionary trend towards direct development in this species.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2013

Included in

Biology Commons